BEATRICE — The first inning was not kind to Beatrice shortstop Adam DeBoer.
A pair of errant throws on ground balls in the top half of the inning led to an early 3-0 deficit, and the junior then struck out in his first at-bat.
The seventh inning, though, was DeBoer’s time to shine.
DeBoer made a pair of game-saving outs on defense before driving a deep double that set up Connor Hamilton’s walk-off single in Class B No. 5 Beatrice’s 5-4 win over No. 4 Elkhorn North on Thursday at Christenson Field.
The game was knotted 4-4 in the top of the seventh when Elkhorn North (4-3) got two runners on base with no outs. Despite his rough start, DeBoer never doubted himself as he charged back-to-back slow grounders and gunned down the batter at first base.
“I just knew I had to make the play, and I was fired up when I came off the field,” he said. "I wanted the ball so bad.”
After saving the game, DeBoer promptly sprinted into the dugout, put on his helmet and came onto the field for some ferocious practice swings. He then proceeded to drill a ball deep into center field for a crucial double.
“I just got up there with complete confidence; I knew I was going to mash the ball,” DeBoer said.
Scoring the winning run would have been a nice cherry on top, but a fielder’s choice kept DeBoer from achieving that honor. Instead, pinch-runner Elijah Mangnall scored on Hamilton’s chopper up the middle to win the game for Beatrice (5-0).
Despite the intense seventh inning, both teams' starting pitchers kept the scoring low for most of the game. DeBoer’s early errors gave Elkhorn North a 3-0 lead, but the Wolves promptly gave back all three runs in the bottom of the first after a crucial fielding error of their own.
Dominant off-speed pitches helped Beatrice senior Qwin Zabokrtsky strike out five batters in six innings of work, but the Wolves did manage nine base hits off Zabokrtsky.
“His best pitch is his change-up, and his change-up and curveball were keeping guys off-balance,” Beatrice coach Chris Belding said. “They (Elkhorn North) had about nine to 10 hits off him, and that’s the most I’ve ever seen anybody get hits off him.”
The Orangemen are now off to a perfect start, but this was the first time they’d played such a close game all season. Previous games included a 13-1 win over Auburn in the season-opener and a 10-0 shutout of Seward on Monday, so Beatrice now knows it has what it takes to win a close game.
“It was a really good game and we needed that,” Belding said. “All the (other) teams we’ve put them away later in the games, but having to come back and win a game like that can lead to a lot of good things in the future.”